Animal Activism of the Poor in Australia—Is anyone paying attention?
Preliminary research shows a potential link between the backgrounds of activists and their chosen mode of activism, and there are large strategic, motivational and philosophical
variations within the movement. For example, animal welfare/rights activists are stereotyped as being disproportionately well-educated and affluent and their activism is portrayed as being motivated by philosophical concerns, rather than direct exposure to animal suffering (Jerolmack, 2003). Conversely, animal liberation activists appear to have been often
motivated by traumatic encounters with institutionalised animal brutality, which have raised deeper political and economic questions for them. An example is slaughterhouse workers who turned whistleblowers, like ALF campaigners Rod Coronado and Kim Stallwood, whose
experiences spurred them to radical direct action (Coronado, 2004; Stallwood, 2014).
Animal activism is not solely the domain of a privileged elite (Lowe & Ginsberg, 2002) and studies suggest that working class activists play an important role in more radical
movements like the ALF, which is said to be composed of at least 50% working class
members (Liddick, 2006, pp. 82-83). Further, Jerolmack found that “young, non-black
minorities, and the less educated” were more likely to support animal rights than animal welfare. The scholarship on environmentalism reveals that working class environmental
activists more often opt for direct action approaches, rather than participation in formal organisations. If working class animal rights activists make similar choices, then the scholarly focus so far on mainstream professionalised animal welfare organisations would obscure their contributions. A focus on animal liberation activism and organisations, may uncover working class animal activism.
Coronado, R. (2004). Direct Actions Speak Louder than Words. In S. Best & A.J. Nocella (Eds.), Terrorists or Freedom Fighters. New York: Lantern Books.
Jerolmack, C. (2003). Tracing the Profile of Animal Rights Supporters: A Preliminary
Investigation. Society & Animals, 11(3), 245-263. Doi: 10.1163/156853003322773041
Liddick, D. (2006). Eco-terrorism: Radical environmental and animal liberation movements. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Lowe, B.M., & Ginsberg, C.F. (2002). Animal Rights as a Post-Citizenship movement. Society and Animals, 10(2), 203-215.
Stallwood, K. (2014). Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate: Latern Books.
My name is Jeanette Carroll and I am doing my PhD in sociology at Charles Sturt Uni, at the Albury campus. My thesis topic is "Animal activism of the poor in Australia", which is exploring issues of class, gender and other social factors amongst animal activists in a range of Australian animal advocacy organisations ranging in approach from welfare to rights to liberation. I have been teaching sociology for CSU for the past 4 years, including sociology 101, social inequality and society and the
environment, which includes a focus on non-human animals as a part of the
environment. Later in 2017 I will co-teaching a subject on animals and society.